The Bodrum Cup- a festival of wooden sailing yachts
The Bodrum Cup Wooden Sailing Yacht Regatta, an international event, has become a tradition, held every year since 1989 and organized by Era Bodrum Sailing Club.
The race starts on the last Wednesday of October and consists of four legs. It is an unusual race in that charter yachts participate complete with passengers. The Bodrum Cup is not only a race, but also a marine festival with guests from all over the world. The yachts form a perfect circle symbolizing a message of love and friendship to the world. It is also an exhibition, an opportunity to show off the beautiful, locally-built yachts to prospective buyers. It's an event where captains and crews can further develop their skills, a school where people can learn to use the wind to the best advantage, and a chance for the yacht builders to test their boats in all kinds of weather.
People in Bodrum and the surrounding area have always built boats, adapting the designs according to the needs of the period. Wooden boats were used in ancient times to carry wine and other cargoes, and more recently were produced for sponge diving and fishing purposes. In the 1970's when the beauty of the Gökova Gulf became more widely-known through books and articles in the press, fishing boats were one by one transformed into charter yachts. New yachts were constructed with the requirements of the passengers on these 'blue cruises' in mind, so that sailing took a back seat to comfort. Towards the 1990's, the production of wooden boats in Turkey rose rapidly to the ten thousand mark. After being neglected for a period, the capacity of the yachts as sailing vessels once more came to the fore with the Bodrum Cup. The competition between craftsmen who participate in the boats they have built, and the competition between their newest boats and those of previous years, spurs the production of ever better yachts certified to high standards- both luxurious and fine performers under sail. The more widespread use of sail means that the charter season can last longer now. In this way, the Bodrum Cup has paved the way for winter cruises.
For five days, one and a half thousand people, including five hundred from other countries, rise at dawn to prepare for the day's exciting race which ends at sunset, giving way to an evening of pleasurable soci ali zing. The concerts performed aboard at night while the boats are in the 'circle of love' formation are especially enjoyable. The course changes each year and the yachts compete to win the Bodrum Cup, awarded at the end of the five days. The winner receives the race flag from the previous year's cup winner who has carried it for a year. The winner knows that, in order not to give up the flag to another, they must work even harder as the shipyards are busy building new competition. If a yacht wins the cup three times, they may keep the flag. In fifteen years two yachts, 'Ayaz' and 'Selene', have earned this honour.
In addition to traditional wooden boats, other types of yacht have been able to take part in the 'guest category' since the first year of the race. In recent years, the clothes worn by the crews have become an entertaining feature. Costumes are prepared according to the theme chosen for that year, and teams compete to win prizes for the most beautiful or amazing outfits.
Each year on the last and most exciting day of the Bodrum Cup, an exuberant crowd waits in the harbour. Bands play and schools perform shows they have been preparing all year. They cheer the returning yachts whose crews now try to outdo each other in tug-of-war games. While the winners sip champagne after the awards ceremony, the competitors are already planning how they can manage to join their friends in the race again next year.
Due to the interest and enthusiasm of the participants and the wonderful vista the yachts create on the sea, the Bodrum Cup has become one of the most important events of its kind in the Mediterranean. Attached you can find this year’s programme, the race will take place between 22-26 October 2008 for the 20th time. We thank all our sponsors, the race participants and all our friends who have given their support so freely